An appeal in law refers to a "time resort by an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit or administrative proceeding to an appropriate superior court empowered to review a final decision on the ground that it was based upon an erroneous application of the law."¹ Essentially, an appeal refers to when a party is tried, and they feel the verdict was unjust and would like a second opinion. The individual who initiates an appeal, the appellant, is required to file a notice of appeal, along with the necessary documents, to commence appellate review.¹ The person against whom the appeal is brought, the appellee, then files a brief in response to the appellant's allegations.¹
- An appeal from a trial court to an intermediate appellate court and thereafter to the highest appellate court in the jurisdiction;
- Then the appeal might travel the same route as an appeal taken from a judicial decision, or it may go directly to a superior appellate court for review, bypassing the intermediate stage.
1. Right to Appeal
No one individual has an absolute right of appeal for all decisions rendered by a lower court or administrative.¹ Constitutions and provisions create appellate courts and decide which types of cases will be heard in their jurisdiction.¹ The right to appeal a decision is limited to parties to the proceeding who are aggrieved by the decision because it has a direct and adverse effect upon their persons or property.¹ An actual case or controversy must exist at the time of review.¹
2. Final decision
A final judgment must have been reached by the trial court in order for a case to be appealed. The intention of this rule is to prevent the piecemeal litigation of a lawsuit, to avoid delay resulting from Interlocutory appeals¹, and to give the trial court the opportunity to render a decision in the case to satisfy both parties.
3. Time and notice of appeal
Appeals are required to be made within the time prescribed by statute or by the governing rules of the appellate court. If the appeal is not taken within the time set by statute, the right to appeal is foreclosed.¹ A notice of appeal is essentially a written document filed by the appellant with the court and a copy of which is sent to the appellee. This document serves to inform the court and the party in whose favor a judgment or order has been made that the unsuccessful party seeks a review of the case.¹
An appeal bond is a promise, made by the appellant, to pay a sum of money to secure the appellee against the costs of the appeal. The amount is decided upon by the court itself or by the statute.¹ This serves to discourage frivolous appeals.
5. Assignment of Errors
This is a statement by the appellant of the errors alleged to have been committed in the lower court. This controls the scope of an appeal. If a ground for review is not contained in it, it will not be considered by the court.¹ This is usually a part of the notice of appeal, but in some jurisdictions it is a separate document entirely.
6. Appellate Brief
Both the appellant and the appellee must file separate briefs to aid the appellate court in its consideration of hte issues presented. Failing to do this, the appeal will be dismissed.¹ The appellant's brief must discuss the alleged errors that entitle the appellant to a reversal and discuss why each ruling of the lower court was wrong, citing authority.¹
Appellate courts have jurisdiction to decide only issues actually before them on appeal and nothing else. They cannot render opinions on controversies or declare principles of law that have no practical effect in settling the rights of the litigants.¹ The appellate court must also decide whether or not the alleged errors made by the trial court are harmless or prejudicial.¹
A hearing is scheduled by the clerk of the appellate court.¹ ON this date, each side involved in the hearing must present an oral argument, which usually last 10 to 15 minutes and aid the court in understanding the issues argued in the brief.¹ The appellant's argument briefly discusses the facts on which the Cause of Action is based and traces the history of the case through the lower courts.
After reviewing the controlling issues in an action, the appellate court may affirm the decision of the inferior tribunal, modify it, reverse it, or remand the case for a new trial in the lower court pursuant to its order.¹
1. The Free Dictionary. Appeal. Retrieved May 13, 2014, from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Appeal+(law)